Updated: Aug 29, 2018
Excursions wherever you go can become quickly expensive. Thankfully Matt and I really enjoy just viewing the sites, landscapes, and architecture of where we visit – and of course just taking photos of what we see. But sometimes, activities and must-do adventures cost money and that’s okay. So we try to find good deals or splurge where we really want to and save where we could live without.
In Iceland, our biggest cost excursions were the Blue Lagoon and our trail ride on Icelandic horses. On our first morning in Iceland, we drove from where we stayed in Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon around 45 minutes south. The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spring, rich in minerals like silica and sulfur that provide health benefits for your skin. The water temperature is around 99° F. Their cheapest package is 54 EUR or 63 USD, which is what we did. Make sure to bring your own swimsuit and a waterproof camera because you’ll want one. It was a very cold day, so it was hard to imagine we would be in our swimsuits in water in a matter of time. They provide you with a RFID wristband, which allows you to lock/unlock your locker and purchase food/drinks while in the lagoon. That way you can store all your belongings in your locker. They ask everyone to shower before entering the lagoon and apply conditioner in their hair and not wash it out. That way the minerals don’t make one’s hair unmanageable and thick afterwards. Then you are ready for the experience! It was truly one of the coolest things we have done. There’s nothing like being in hot water in an “ice land.” Afterwards we wanted to get pictures of course, but they don't allow guests to walk around the lagoon in full clothing, only bathing suits and towels. Therefore we had to run around soaking wet in 35ºF and crazy winds. It was worth it for the pictures though.
The next day we went to Ishestar to trail ride on Icelandic horses. They are the only breed allowed on the island so they are very healthy and long-living. If you are looking for a fun, adventurous way to see the country side, I would highly recommend a trail ride. We rode through the lava fields, just at a walk. It was Matt’s first time riding a horse and he did awesome. If you are more experienced, they also take out advance groups and allow them to trot, canter, tölt, and flying pace – the last two being unique gaits of the Icelandic horse. The majority of the ride we were blessed with perfect weather, but the last 10 minutes it sleeted and snowed on us. The weather can change quickly. We were very happy we took Ishestar up on their offer and accepted bright orange raingear from them. The trail ride cost ISK 12200 or 114 USD.
The only other money we found ourselves spending on activities was for parking. But that would only be like ISK 5000 per location. We visited a few of the popular waterfalls: Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Hraunfossar, Barnafoss, and Öxarárfoss. I believe you can’t go to Iceland without seeing at least a few of these ginormous waterfalls.
We came across the entrance to the famous Sólheimasandur plane crash. Apparently a few years ago one was allowed to drive right up to the plane but the sign informed us that the hike to the plane is 4 miles/7 km round trip on the black sand beach and takes between 3-4 hours to walk. We did not have the time in our busy road trip to walk to the plane, so we opted out.
One day, we did the Golden Circle. We went to the Geysir. I have one important thing to say about that: DON’T BE STUPID. DO NOT WAIT FOR IT TO ERUPT. It will not erupt. Only if there is an earthquake. We stood next to it waiting (with many other stupid people) for 20 minutes in the pouring rain and intense wind. I had the GoPro ready and my fingers were about frozen off. And on the insanely rare occasion that an eruption does occur, you won’t want to be anywhere near as close as they allow you to get to it. That should have been our first clue. Waiting definitely made for a good memory but it wasn’t pleasant when we ended up soaked to the bone. I recommend bringing an extra pair of clothes on your Iceland road trips.
We went to Silfra, where Matt wants to scuba dive between the tectonic plates one day. You have to be wet suit certified. He plans to achieve that somewhere where it’s much cheaper. We saw people snorkeling while we were there. Snokeling cost 14.990 ISK and Scuba Diving is 39.990 ISK. The wind in Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park was insane – I literally had to have everything covered but my eyes. I should have brought more clothes and it was May! But the Öxarárfoss waterfall was beautiful.
After driving all day, we arrived at Vik around 8:30pm. We decided that if we wanted to see the Glacier Lagoon, Jökulsárlón, then we should just drive another two hours now to see it or we would never see it again (well not on this trip). By the way, there is almost nothing in between on Vik and the Glacier Lagoon so have a full tank and a full stomach. We made it there at 10:30pm at sunset. After the long drive, we were truly overwhelmed to see the sight in front of us. I can honestly say Matt and I both had tears in our eyes at the first glimpse of the icebergs. We were five hours from Reykjavik and had such a long journey back that night but it was so worth it. It was the coldest I had been up to that point on the trip up to that point. We stayed for 45 minutes and got many pictures and enjoyed the view. We headed back while it finally became dark. It’s interesting because of the location of Iceland, it never truly gets dark at night – just twilight at that time of year. The only place open on the way back was the Iceland Air hotel in Vik, which let us use their restroom at 1:30am. Coming into Reykjavík, over the mountains, it was snowing. We finally arrived at our AirBnb at 4:30am.